Originally created 08/07/99

New plan for Regency Mall



Windward Properties will offer a plan to revive Regency Mall.

Greater Augusta Progress, a local urban renewal group charged with distributing a $100,000 grant, chose the Los Angeles-based real estate company after reviewing four proposals.

The money is coming from Urban Development Action Grants that have been repaid to the city and must be spent according to U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development guidelines.

"The redevelopment strategy they've got is impressive," said Monty Osteen, Greater Augusta Progress vice president and treasurer. "I hope what comes out of this is a strategy that has a good chance of success."

Windward Properties' study is estimated to cost $99,000 and should be completed by the end of November.

Once the recommendations have been made, Greater Augusta Progress will use them to generate interest in revitalizing the mall and the surrounding area, the group's officers said. Greater Augusta Progress is a privately funded, nonprofit organization.

Regency Mall, once the largest mall in Georgia, has been in decline for about a decade. North Carolina-owner Haywood Whichard says he wants to sell the shopping center.

Windward Properties -- which has redeveloped old malls in Chattanooga, Tenn., and Baton Rouge, La. -- was created to turn around failing shopping centers, according to the company's proposal. The company bought Eastgate Mall in Chattanooga in 1997. It is marketing Eastgate as a center that includes stores, offices, restaurants and apartments.

"We're just excited," Windward spokesman Andrew Stinnett said. "We're not going to come in there and say `This is what you should do.' There will be a lot of community input."

Other study proposals were submitted by: The Bellfa Group, a nonprofit corporation based in Augusta and organized in 1997; ICON Architecture, based in Boston; and LDR International, based in Columbia, Md.

Both ICON Architecture and LDR International have done other studies in the area. ICON Architecture was responsible for a riverfront and downtown plan in North Augusta, and LDR International created the strategic assessment that Greater Augusta Progress is using to develop the Augusta area.

On Friday, the Greater Augusta Progress board also discussed plans to hire a consulting firm to design the architecture and landscaping at the intersections of Peach Orchard and Tobacco roads, Gordon Highway and Doug Barnard Parkway, and Interstate 20 and River Watch Parkway.

Greater Augusta Progress plans to select a firm by Oct. 1.

The group's long-range strategic plan calls for aesthetics improvements to 14 corridors, or gateways, into the city. Funding for the designs will come from a $120,000 government grant -- $95,000 of which is from the federal sources and the rest from the city.

The Greater Augusta Progress board of directors consists of Mr. Osteen, a former bank executive; Jimmy Smith, of Smitty's Auto Service and Smith Tire Co.; and Harold Mays, of Mays International Trucks.

Beginning in September, they plan to meet at the County Planning Commission Building the third Thursday of each month.

Frank Witsil can be reached at (706) 823-3352.